Black Businesses receive less than 1% of contracts
(San Antonio) – Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and Bexar County Manager David Smith met with the Fair Contracting Coalition (FCC) in response to the request for Open Records data that shows the spending history with the local small, minority and women business community and to discuss the County’s performance with the Small, Women, Minority business community.
FCC’s Rev Ruben R. Shields, pastor of Friendship Baptist Church opened the historic meeting in prayer. He said, “Lord, you have toiled along with us these long eight years, in our pursuit of justice and fairness. We do not see the status quo policies as the walls of Jericho that need to come down, but the opportunity for change.”
Before the county presented their data, the FCC presented a full set of recommendation for the Judge to adopt a Five Year Fair Contracting Diversity Action Plan that contains critical elements to increasing working with the local business community. FCC’s founder TC Calvert stated after the meeting that, “In no way does the FCC Contracting Diversity Action Plan get in the way of a proposed County disparity study. It should not even be suggested that it replace the disparity study that will legally provide the foundation of what Bexar County will need to do to put tools in place that can legally manage the pressure to do more with local small minority businesses.
The County hand-delivered the results of an Open Records request made by FCC’s Greg Jackson. Greg Jackson spoke of previous years of request where no data was provided to the requesters. The data Jackson stated, “has led to Bexar County receiving an “F” grade on the historic Report Card issued by the FCC’s minority chamber of commerce community to all tax-payer based public agencies.” He did state that the delays in the request may not have been known to the Judge. Jackson stated… “It took 8 years, but it came back that Commissioner Paul Elizondo did not want to release XYZ data.”
The data for 2017 reflect at the Prime level reflects less than 1 percent or .80% of contracts was spent with African American businesses in 2017. The worst year was in 2013 with .17% or $372,148 spent out of $36,620,520.
While the numbers never came up in conversation, Judge Wolff spoke with sincerity, and made the recommendation that he would take the Fair Contracting Diversity Action Plan to the Commissioner’s Court to be voted on. He also stated it was important to build a solid relationship, and stated he would meet with the group monthly. He asked Thomas Guevara, Chief of Staff or the County Manager to work with the FCC to ensure the proposed plan was worked on together to prepare the Court.
FCC’s Christopher Herring, Chairman of the Texas Association of African American Chambers, pointed out that “one idea in the Diversity Action Plan focuses on the Economic Development Foundation.” Herring made the observation “there are no African Americans on this powerful board with the exception of the CPS Energy CEO, who represents the utility interest and not African American interest.” Herring said, “I have called the Executive Director with no return emails or calls, and I find with Bexar County’s heavy taxpayer investment, the Judge could negotiate for a Board position, recommended by the FCC, and Bexar County pay the hefty board fees associated to the EDF to ensure at the highest levels the community has proper representation.” David Smith, Bexar County’s Manager confirmed about $200,000 to $300,000 is provided to the EDF from Bexar County. Judge Wolff stated, “I will look into this, as you have brought up a great point.” Herring added, “In 300 years celebration by our City and our County, we have to do what is right, and stop economic discrimination at all levels.”
Judge Wolff “I know we have our shortcomings and I don’t like to make excuses.” Judge stated “I would like to request a meeting with the Mayor of San Antonio Ron Nirenberg with the FCC to discuss sweeping changes to positively impact the issues identified today.”
County Manager David Smith said the FCC representation and recommendations was exceptional. “I want to thank you for this (FCC Contracting Diversity Action Plan). By far this is the most actionable and measurable plan that I have seen over the past 25-years. We will work to do what the Judge says. We will work to develop an action plan. If there is some issue with this we will refine it. I will have measureable dividable results.”
“With the county being a majority minority community, we should have much better results in the future”, said FCC’s Chris Dawkins.
The FCC’s next meeting is being hosted by CPS Energy at the Atlas Body and Paint location on April 25, 2018.